Virginia is getting serious about developing its space industry. It already offers incentives like corporate income tax breaks to commercial space flight companies, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is spending $125 million on a new space port launch facility, and now the state might begin offering incentives to individuals who elect to be buried in space. Republican Terry Kilgore is proposing a bill that would give people an $8,000 tax credit for choosing to contract with a company that would “place the taxpayer’s human cremated remains into earth or lunar orbit from a spaceport facility operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.”
Space burial hasn’t exactly caught on a large level yet, but it has been picking up in recent years. In 2008, a commercial flight buried 63 people from Japan in space. There’ve been a number of high profile Americans – such as Star Trek’s own Gene Roddenberry – buried in space, too. It is still fairly expensive to send your remains out into the cosmos – ranging from $995 to about $13,000 – but tax incentives like the one proposed in Virginia could change that. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the average traditional funeral and burial already runs around $6,000, so a tax incentive really does seem to have the potential of bringing those higher end space burial in line with that or lower.
The real difficulty at that point may be shifting societal attitudes toward space burial. After all, even Billie Reed, executive director of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority quoted in the Washington Examiner article, said he didn’t plan to launch his own remains into orbit.